Forest Investment Account (FIA) - Forest Science Program
FIA Project Y073005

    Evaluating large-scale forest zoning to improve the efficiency of timber production and biodiversity objectives
Project lead: Bunnell, Fred
Contributing Authors: Boyland, Mark; Bunnell, Fred L.; Vernier, Pierre R.
Imprint: Vancouver, BC : University of British Columbia, 2007
Subject: Forest Investment Account (FIA), Zoning, British Columbia
Series: Forest Investment Account (FIA) - Forest Science Program
The project remains a good fit to FSP priorities and best fits theme 1: Ecosystem structure, function and processes and biodiversity related to forest management. Within theme 1, it best fits 1.3 (Coarse filter approaches) – a funding priority for 2005/06. Strategic zoning is an important coarse filter approach to maintaining biodiversity at the landscape scale. Forest planners must consider both an increasing number of forest objectives and an increasing pressure to use the forest resource more efficiently. A large proportion of the objectives conflict with each other: extraction-based activities (e.g., timber harvest) and those that require a relatively intact forest (e.g., water quality, recreation, wildlife). Multiple use has been the dominant management framework used to balance competing objectives, interspersing all objectives across the same landbase. This works well when objectives are complementary (e.g., recreation and viewscapes) or only mildly competing. However, some objectives are so incompatible or so large scale that intermingling them is impractical. For example, it is difficult to maintain species that require long periods to recolonize stands after harvest. Zoning landscapes is coarse filter approach that distributes the production of groups of forest objectives into separate areas. Zone types are designed to divide competing objectives into separate areas on the landbase where they will have less impact on each other. This limits the area of production for each objective to a smaller area than under multiple-use, however the separation of competing objectives allows for more intensive production of each on their respective landbases. In the current funding year (2004/5) we have developed a zone allocation model that uses ecological, economic, and social indicators to locate zones over large landscapes. We are focusing on 1) creating a credible, transparent modelling tool that can produce efficient zone patterns, 2) detailing the opportunities of zoning versus multiple use, and 3) establishing reliable data sources. The current suite of economic and social indicators are well established, however, many questions remain concerning the biodiversity indicators. The main ecological indicator is representation defined around BEC sub-zone, with three sub-indicators: stand age, identified preservation areas, and site productivity. We propose to concentrate work in 2005/6 on creating more rigorous definitions of the ecological indicators used to value zoning solutions. A coarse filter approach such as zoning has indicator requirements peculiar to large-scale analyses. The indicators must be 'coarse' enough to cover known and unknown species requirements, but specific enough to direct management. Data must be available and accurate, spatial and linkable to the habitat relationships of interest. The process of creating the zones must be transparent enough for industry, ministry, and public validation. As well, the combination of indicator definition, data validity and process transparency must be pursued with a combination of rigor and scientific significance that will produce enough credibility for the results to influence management plans. Many ecological indicators are linked to stand dynamics, and therefore contain a temporal component. At the strategic level, the temporal component is of less concern than the underlying site factors that guide stands. However, at middle scales, stand dynamics, species composition, disturbance, and patch size distributions can dominate. A zoning strategy infers a permanent solution, and the site factors will ultimately be more important than temporal influences, however 1) in the short term, indicators linked to stands will be very important and, 2) previous strategic plans have been so short-lived that hedging the long-term strategies against change with stand-level indicators is prudent. Therefore, we propose to create ecological indicators appropriate for zone creation that also contain stand structural elements, and modify the zoning model to allow for inclusion of indicators with temporal components. These could follow typical habitat structural elements where appropriate, however, they will be needed to be modified extensively as they are scaled up to the landscape/strategic scales.
Related projects:  FSP_Y051005FSP_Y062005


Final Report (0.2Mb)
Monitoring Vertebrates… (0.3Mb)
Landscape-level zoning on Canfor’s TFL48: The Economic Performance… (0.7Mb)
Landscape-level zoning on Canfor’s TFL48: Improving modelling performance… (0.1Mb)

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Updated August 16, 2010 

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